No need to sugarcoat this fact: The NBA’s Eastern Conference is terrible. Only the Pacers and Heat are more than a game over .500. Meanwhile, 12 of the 15 Western Conference teams entered last night’s games at .500 or better.
But even in the East, no division is as pathetic as the Atlantic, of which the Nets and Knicks are at the bottom. The Raptors, at four games under .500, currently hold a half-game edge over the Celtics.
If the playoffs started today, Toronto would have home-court advantage in the first round.
Here’s a look at each team in the NBA’s worst division.
Toronto has, by far, the best average point differential (-0.4) in the division, but that’s no compliment. The core players are all healthy, so that’s no excuse for a mediocre record. Without DeMar DeRozan (21.6 ppg) and Rudy Gay (19.7 ppg), they’d be in even worse shape.
With rookie coach Brad Stevens and without top player Rajon Rondo, Boston is playing beyond expectations to this point. The Celtics are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league (93 ppg), but a playoff berth in the weaker conference can’t be ruled out.
Another young overachieving group, Philadelphia got off to a surprising start when they won their first three games — including against the Heat in their opener. Too bad they can’t play defense; the Sixers allow a league-worst 110.1 points per game.
The projected starting five for brittle Brooklyn already have missed a combined 19 games this season. Not that they were playing fantastically when, briefly, everyone was healthy. The prolonged absence of Brook Lopez (20 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg) had hurt most.
As dire as things look at the Garden, this team is only three games out of the No. 4 seed in the East. Of course, they’ll need to end that nine-game skid before they can start making up ground. Scoring more than 92.8 points per game would be a great way to make that happen.